Internationally renowned architecture and interior design firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has won the competition to design a new stadium in Stroud, Gloucestershire, for the Forest Green Rovers, a team which plays in the National League, the fifth-highest in the overall England football league system.
The stadium will be the centrepiece of the £100 million Eco Park development, a proposed 100-acre sports and green technology business park proposal by green energy specialist Ecotricity — and in a world first, it will be built almost entirely of wood.
"Zaha Hadid Architects has built some fantastic sports stadia and facilities around the world, including one at the Olympic Park in London, they've designed one of the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, and now they've designed one for Forest Green," says Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder and Forest Green Rovers chairman.
He noted that around three-quarters of the lifetime carbon impact of any stadium comes from its building materials — and that the team's new stadium designed by ZHA would have the lowest embodied carbon of any stadium in the world, using wood as its primary construction material. "Wood is not only naturally occurring, it has very low embodied carbon — about as low as it gets for a building material."
According to ZHA director Jim Heverin, the stadium will be the centrepiece of Eco Park. "The design retains and enhances the existing meadow landscape of the site while adding the stadium and other functions for the town," he explains. "Embodying low carbon construction methods and operational processes, it will be the first all-timber football stadium with almost every element made of sustainably-sourced timber, including its structure, roof cantilevers and louvered cladding."
The stadium's roof will be covered with a transparent membrane, which contributes to turf growth, minimises stark shadows for players and fans and reduces the volumetric impact of the stadium from distant views in the surrounding landscape. The design also incorporates the club's future growth. Initially for 5,000 spectators, increasing to 10,000 with the club's success, expansion from phase 1 to phase 2 can be achieved without the costs of major construction works.
Forest Green Rovers' new stadium and Eco Park both aim to be carbon-neutral or carbon-negative, including measures such as the provision of on-site renewable energy generation. "The buildings on the site, and their embodied energy, play a substantial role in achieving this ambitious target and demonstrate sustainable architecture can be dynamic and beautiful," Heverin concludes.